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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
The Roman Empire: Its Grandeur and Fall
The Roman Empire was the most durable political structure in the history of Europe. Its decline has served as a basis for comparisons with the trajectory of the United States today. This introductory seminar will explore a global approach to human history through a focus on the centuries of the Roman Empire and its decline (the 1st through the 5th centuries C.E.). The basic questions motivating the seminar include the following: What was the political and military glue that held this diverse, multiethnic empire together? What were the sources of wealth, and how was it unequally distributed through Roman society? What were the possibilities and limits of economic growth? How integrated was the Empire in culture and religion? What were the causes and consequences of the conversion to Christianity? Why did the Roman Empire fall in the West? And how suitable is the analogy to the United States in the 21st century?